Posted tagged ‘Illustration’

GivingCity issue 3 now available for download

May 27, 2009

UPDATE: Please download the 4th issue here!


Been super busy the past few months and really haven’t had time to update the blog at all. We’re happy that the new issue of GivingCity is now complete (at last!), and we can move on to the next one – and get that one done on time! Please take a look and give me your feedback. Also, please please please send the link to as many people as you can! (more…)

Cool stuff in April’s Wired

April 2, 2008

Look at these contents pages in Wired (April). Bobba Fett is obviously 110% badass, and having a shot of his helmet cover the entire page is too nerd-cool for words. Also, I’ve talked about Wired’s secondary contents page before and how much I like it – I love the ’70’ being sucked up by the vacuum here, tiny detail, but super-cool anyway!
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The other thing in here which caught my attention was this illustrated feature on a dodgy green car company’s shady dealings. The illustration style is… kind of telephone book ad/60’s or 70’s styles infographics and illustrations. There seems to be a lot of retro styling going on in magazines right now, especially in infographics and illustration (I’ve written about several examples in previous posts), I wonder if it will start extending more to layouts throughout the magazine as a whole like it seems to have here (I don’t mean just in Wired, more in general). Anyway, I really like it, thought the background colors used make some of the body copy a little hard to read in places.
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Finally, from the front of the book, an almost full-page infographic that uses another retro-modern style. Wired’s infographics are a mixture of styles depending on the type of inormation being displayed I guess, but of the bunch this was the one I thought worth mentioning.

Esquire UK redesign trims the design fat, and considers its aging audience?

April 1, 2008

So I got a copy of the redesigned UK Esquire magazine, with Naomi Watts on the cover. I’m sure I’m late to the party on this, but living in the US has made it a lot harder to keep track of the magazines I used to read while living in London (but can’t afford to subscribe to any more). First things that strikes me about the cover is how clean and and clutter-free it is, the modern/retro 60’s looking font they’re using on the main coverlines (and throughout the magazine), and finsaly the thick black bar bleeding over from the black spine on the left. It’ll be interesting to see if the cover is a definite way-forward in terms of the white space used there, and relatively simple but effective photography allowing each element room to breathe. I was thrown by the headline font for a second or two, but I think I really like it. To me it looks very London, very cool, aware of its huge backlog of influences and very unique…no-one’s going to be able to copy this easily without it being obvious where they’re lifting the idea from. The black bar bleeding from the spine seems to help the overall impact of the cover….covering it up and looking at the cover alone, it seems to lose a lot of impact, so I think the black bar was a good call, helping frame the important stuff to the right. It looks like the Esquire logo has taken a considerable step back toeward it’s original look too, contributing to the retro-feel.

The contents page is very straightforward and clean, easy to read. The thumbnails of the pages don’t do much more than re-affirm what you’re looking at, and I think they’d have been a little more effective on the right-hand side of the page away from the full-page ad to the left.

The clean, no-frills graphic-treatment continues inside on the front-of-book stuff. There’s a nice, airy feel to the pages, even the ones that are copy-heavy. The continued use of the new font seems to be the dominant element of the redesign, providing the biggest visual clue that something is different. It doesn’t feel over-used yet. I’m assuming, although I have not researched the decisions behind the redesign, that the redesign as a whole is aimed at their readership that has now presumably moved on or grown up/out of the lad-mag culture which was so huge at one point in the UK.
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The cover story continues the Naomi Watts image from the cover, all on white, very clean and what looks like maybe a condensed/light version of the new main font, nicely separating the feature well from the rest of the department content.
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Note that the sidebar here, as on other pages, is only called out by a thick black bar running across the top, there’s no large header or background color separating it from the rest of the copy.

There’s a large amount of fashion-photography-driven content, with some amazing sets/locations being utilised. I’d love to know how long and how many people it took to set this shoot up from concept to completion. It’s nice not to have the model taking up the entire page or spread in each shot, there’s a generous amount of background used, and the shots pull back far enough to really give a sense of the scale of the production, without taking away from the products on display.
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The retro feel continues with this studio-shot fashion feature. Paint is awesome!

And I love the 60’s vibe in this studio-shot peice, which uses cardboard cutouts of illustrations by James Taylor as props and set-pieces.

Smaller prouct driven pages such as this one are really nice and clean, I seem to be a sucker for pages with symmetrical image boxes such as this one.

On page 129, there’s a section called ‘Critics’, which contains their film, tv, music, books etc reviews, and another self-explanatory section called ‘Business’. It’s interesting as they’ve chosen to fit it all in one or two signatures and print those signatures on cheaper paper-stock in one color. I wasn’t sure why at first but in thinking about it for 5 seconds, really there’s no big use of images, no compelling photography used here, the reviews are just that – reviews, not fashion or product pages. In a way I guess they’re stating that the content is really worth reading, and needs some time invested in it, it’s not another glance-through section of the magazine.
Or I might be talking crap and they’re just out to save money.

Finally, I wanted to call attention to this secondary feature opener, another nice clean use of good photography and their new font.

All together I think the issue looks great, it certainly seems much more mature than many of its competitors, and really feels like it feels good about its own content. The confident, vaguely old-school vibe given off by the font use, white space and treatment of some of the graphics/photography makes it feel like a magazine that really knows the direction it wants to go in, and exactly what it thinks its audience want to see.

PASTE magazine getting into the groove

February 28, 2008

Another magazine swiped from a co-worker before they arrive at the office…. Paste’s covers have always made me pick it up, but I rarely actually buy the magazine myself. I appreciate they’re trying to really build their own strong identity and I think it’s working on their covers, but I think perhaps they’d do themselves a service by making their interior templates look a little less Rolling Stone, especially in their choice of fonts and colors and the use of keylines of varying widths and colors all over the pages. But back to the cover, many times I don’t think they’ve made their logo contrast enough with whatever is on the cover to stand out on the newsstand or even be readable, and seem to remember several covers that use an abundance of browns, dark reds and yellows, that just completely dissappear when surrounded by other magazines. This issue is different… a simple iconic image, dark background with white-ish type on the coverlines and banner on a dark background, and a lot of space make this the most dramatic and eye-catching cover I’ve seen from them yet, I really hope they continue down this road. Looking in the top left corner, there’s one of these ‘*’ things which I’ve used myself in the past and am equally guilty of abusing without even thinking about what it actually does, which I think in the case of Paste’s cover is nothing. Designers seem to love slapping on plus signs, stars, flashes and all kinds of crap which I don’t think they’re really thinking about, they’re just sheeping their layouts in order to try to keep up with what’s ‘current’. But I digress, this Paste cover is awesome overall, and they should pat themselves on the back for producing it.

I mentioned above the interior layout and template, but they also make use of some charts and infographics, some of which work, some which don’t… and they also have one of those website contents pages which seems rather wasteful here considering how little they seem to have on the page itself.
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The contributors page highlights some issues with hyphenation and justification. There’s some stretching of words causing some ugly white space between letters to fill an awkward column width which looks like it could have been easily fixed with a little deft editing or simply justifying left, but maybe this page, like the table of contents is one of those pages that’s knocked out at the end of the production cycle, one of the last things to be done, which is a problem I’m trying to address at my own magazine too!

I like this spread on ‘4 to Watch’, but something also bothers me about it. It seems like it needs to go through another couple of design revisions, there are some drop caps hanging over the line of copy below them, the stat boxes at the start of each entry are really drab looking, and as these are presumably lesser-known artists, I’d like to have seen a little more emphasis on their names, and maybe some album art too (who knows, they may not have album art available). Finally, I think this page highlights the weaknesses of some of their regular templated font choices, particularly the one used on the top left for ‘4 to Watch’. The word ‘to’ just looks weird, and kind of ugly compared to the really clean, helvetica-ish font used immediately below, or the more western looking font immediately above (‘Scrapbook’).

For all my criticsm however, I have to say this next piece blew me away. It’s an illustrated ‘Field Guide to Animal Bands’, by the ‘Paste Faunomusicology Society’, and has four illustrative/infographic spreads that require you to turn the magazine sideways to read. Each is broken up into a category – ‘Jungle’, ‘Insects, birds & rodents’, ‘Aquatic’, and ‘Extinct’, and contains an illustration of a type of animal which is labelled and representative of a band talked about in a blurb at the bottom of the page. I think the illustration is a mixture of ink, watercolor and photoshop enhancement, but combined with the old-fashioned field guide look of the layout, is just incredible to look at. There’s actually a lot of illustration used throughout the magazine, and all of it is really nice, it’s good to see a magazine which uses multiple illustrators to such good effect. See the four spreads below, click to make larger (sorry for the picture quality!). The illustrator’s name is Jeremy Holmes.
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GQ Eric Bana cover reminds me I am fat, ugly

February 25, 2008

New american GQ arrived in the mail this weekend. Eric Bana looks good on the cover… is there some weird photoshop going on where his shirt tucks into his pants or is it just the shirt material? Maybe it looks weird because I can’t see any buttons on his shirt. The coverline ‘Eric Bana * Killer Good Looks’ wouldn’t make me want to go read the story on him if I wasn’t already a fan. What is that coverline saying? Down at the bottom of the page there’s a box with a 8pt pink border around it that looks a little clumsy, and a very small white caption looking box below that… I really like the cover photography, but the mixture of text and boxes on the cover layout looks clumsy I think, there’s nothing I look at first, nothing I immediately want to turn to.

The GQ contents page is fairly standard, easy to miss when when you eventually get there after 80 pages of ads.

I really like the look of the front of book stuff, none of it too long, easy to scan, looks interesting and cool. Nice mixture of fluffy content. I love The Sartorialist page, I can’t get enough of his blog since a friend introduced me to it. There’s a nice mixture of illustration, graphics sprinkled throughout the front of book and secondary editorial pieces, which I think is a good idea in a magazine like this, it helps identify the editorial from the photo/fashion heavy ad content.
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Eric Bana spread… the photography is beautiful of course, but I’m not digging the rubik’s cube illustration… the photography is strong, couldn’t it have stood on its own without the addition of an illustrated headline? The following spread (not pictured) is almost entirely text, with a few small photos and a continuation of the rubik’s cube theme as a drop cap.

Personally, this is why I think GQ is the world’s biggest men’s magazine. I freakin’ love this piece… taking young guys off the street (ok, not off the street and yes they’re all better than average looking) and dressing them in clothes that suit their body type and confort level – and includes a look at them before and after. What’s awesome about this is that there’s very little to read but what is there is actually very helpful, for example choosing the correct length of shirt to wear untucked, and can be seen in the before and after shots. The whole piece is so simple and so effective.
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Cool illustration in February’s Inc magazine

February 22, 2008

Click to see the larger version…

Wall and Piece

January 14, 2008

This is a great book about Banksy, the well-known yet anonymous British graffiti artist. There’s a ton of cool stuff in here, and a lot of it gives me tons of ideas for really graphical photography and type treatments. And it makes me want to go out and spray paint a bunch of stuff. That’s not really the point though I suppose.